HC Deb 24 March 1998 vol 309 cc113-4W
Mr. Olner

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement about her Department's consultation exercise on the requirement for companies to file their directors' and company secretaries' home addresses and other particulars at Companies House. [36381]

Mr. Ian McCartney

I have considered the responses to my Department's consultative document very carefully. I have decided that the requirement for companies to file their directors' and company secretaries' home addresses, as well as their directors' nationalities and business occupations, at Companies House should remain.

I am conscious of the concerns of those companies that wanted to be able to keep home addresses off the public register on grounds of either security or privacy. However, such concerns would be impossible to allay completely. The particulars of existing directors registered at Companies House are now in the public arena and it would not be possible to prevent access to that information from company information providers other than Companies House. I have also had to consider the views of those organisations that expressed concern over the need for directors to be accountable to their shareholders and creditors. Keeping home addresses off the public record would make it more difficult to locate directors and easier for directors to avoid creditors and to perpetrate fraud. It would also be more difficult to find out whether directors had been associated with companies that had failed or had been made bankrupt in the past.

I have also decided that the requirement for companies to file directors' other directorships at Companies House should be revoked. A computerised register of directors which provides full details of other directorships was set up by Companies House in 1991. Repealing this requirement will relieve companies of an administrative burden but will not result in any reduction of information on the public record.

I will bring forward regulations revoking the requirement for directors' other directorships to be included in companies' annual returns later this year. Revocation of the requirement for companies to record directors' other directorships in their own registers and to send details to Companies House both on incorporation and when there are any changes will require primary legislation which will be introduced when parliamentary time allows.